The Main Stitches Used in Needlepoint

What is Needlepoint? 


Needlepoint as a whole is stitches done in a counted fashion. The American Needlepoint Guild, an educational non-profit organization, defines the term as “any counted or free stitchery worked by hand with a threaded needle on a readily countable ground.” You can do free form stitches on the countable canvas giving whatever you are making as unique as any other art. And with the different yarn colors and textures with which to work your stitches, the possibilities are boundless.

Needlepoint has many, many different stitches that make up the term, which is why it appeals to so many: variety is the key. Many different stitches can be used on any given pattern. Some stitches allow you to show off your wool or decorative yarns to their best advantage while others are quick and make for nice backgrounds. Deciding on what to use for your next sampler or which to use for a particular effect is made easier once you know the basic categories of the stitches. I classify the stitches into four main categories: Straight, Diagonal, Crossed and Decorative. Over 40 of the more popular stitches are mentioned or described below.

Note: For the purposes of description, I define a 2-mesh stitch encompassing two rows or columns of canvas. A 2-intersection stitch is one that crosses two cross points or intersections of canvas.
The numbers can change, and it therefor increases or decreases the number of canvas points. For example, a 4-mesh stitch has a stitch running across 4 lines of canvas and 1-intersection stitch has a diagonal stitch covering only one intersection point.

The Four Main Categories of Needlepoint Stitches 

  • Straight Stitches (Bargello, Brick, Gobelin, etc.) 
  • Diagonal Stitches (Continental, Byzantine, Mosaic, etc.) 
  • Crossed Stitches (Crossed, Fern, Plaited, etc.) 
  • Decorative Stitches (Eyelet, Looped, etc.) 

Renee Shelton